Exercising for heart diseases is worthwhile for body and mind - regardless of age

Exercising for heart diseases is worthwhile for body and mind - regardless of age

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Cardiac patients benefit from physical cardiac rehabilitation

Regular exercise is very beneficial for everyone affected by cardiovascular disease - regardless of age. Older people in particular benefit most from the sports units. However, this possibility is ignored far too often. This is the result of a recent French study.

Heart-affected patients with severe physical impairments benefited the most from a sports rehabilitation program as part of a French research project by the University of Burgundy. Regular training not only improved physical performance for the participants, it also reduced the effects of anxiety and depression. The study was recently featured in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

Why we are less efficient in old age

The head doctor of the study Gaëlle Deley from the Faculty of Sports Sciences in France explains why our performance decreases with age: "Aging is associated with several debilitating factors, such as increased oxidative stress and increased inflammatory reactions." As a result, the elderly usually less fit than younger ones. If there is also a heart disease, this process of deconditioning is accelerated.

Course of the study

In the current study, the researchers examined the effects of a cardiac rehabilitation program that focuses on regular exercise as a key element. The results of the 733 participants with heart diseases were checked over a period of two and a half years. The subjects were divided into three groups. In the first group everyone was under 65 years old, in the second group between 65 and 80 and in the third group over 80 years old.

Good for body and mind

After the sports program, all participants showed an improvement. “We found that after a few weeks of training, not only did the training capacity improve significantly, but psychological factors such as anxiety and depression also improved,” Deley sums up. Especially the patients with the greatest physical impairments at the beginning of the study benefited the most from the exercise.

Not only the heart benefits

In addition to physical performance, the training also had an amazing effect on the psyche. Indeed, independence and quality of life improved visibly for patients who were very worried before the rehabilitation or suffered from depression. "Our results should help both clinics and patients to recognize how useful training-based rehabilitation can be for cardiovascular diseases," emphasizes the senior doctor.

Sport is often neglected in older people

Many people think: "I'm too old to do sports." Doctors also tend to prescribe less exercise for older people. Professor Dr. Codie R. Rouleau of the University of Calgary commented on the study and argues that older people should use such programs much more often. “The present study can help doctors to recognize that older adults with coronary artery disease benefit from training-based rehabilitation programs,” said Rouleau. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Gaëlle Deley, Cécile Culas, Marie-Cécile Blonde, u.a .: Physical and Psychological Effectiveness of Cardiac Rehabilitation: Age Is Not a Limiting Factor! Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 2019,

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